Pilgrimage to Rome, Paris gets rave reviews
Compass tour led by Bishop Banks was 'trip of lifetime'
ALLOUEZ -- Guests attending the May 3-13 pilgrimage to Rome and Paris, with Bishop Robert Banks serving as spiritual director, gave rave reviews of the experience. Many said the tour, sponsored by The Compass diocesan newspaper, was spiritually uplifting.
"I was really touched by the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Paris (the burial place of St. Catherine Laboure)," said Aggie Merline, a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in De Pere. "I must have 50 miraculous medals and I especially wanted to go there because of my sister, who died this year."
Merline, who has been a member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul for 28 years, found the connections to St. Vincent and his companion Louise de Marillac to be inspiring.
For Teresa Kochaver, a member of Resurrection Parish in Allouez, connecting with Catholicism's roots was the most memorable experience. "Seeing the pope, being part of the papal audience, that was a very moving experience," she said. "The other was the daily Masses with Bishop Banks. Every day we had Mass and that brought us back to what was really important - that this was a pilgrimage."
Exploring the church's history through visits to churches and museums made Kochaver appreciate the early saints and martyrs.
"You read the Bible and you read about the saints, but when you're there and you find that St. Peter was martyred here, and St. Paul was martyred here; it makes them real people," she explained. "It's so very moving that it's hard to talk about it without getting choked up."
"Our most special memory came from the unexpected opportunity to partake in daily Masses by helping lector and distribute communion in some of the most beautiful and sacred basilicas in the world," said Mary Lardinois of Sturgeon Bay. "We considered this a privilege of a lifetime."
Joyce Lampereur said she enjoyed getting to know Bishop Banks, as well as the other pilgrims. "My most memorable part of the pilgrimage was the audience with Pope Benedict. My second most memorable part was (visiting) Assisi."
"The most memorable moments, for me, were the Masses celebrated at the burial place of Blessed Pope John XXIII, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Theresa of Lisieux," said Fr. David Lewis.
Other comments shared by pilgrims in an evaluation of the pilgrimage:
- "It was a trip of a lifetime. There was so much to take in and learn. I feel closer to the saints and Jesus along with the new friends. I also feel closer to the Catholic Church."
- "Overall I enjoyed myself very much. I learned a lot about the saints and it increased my knowledge of our church. Also our guide was great explaining the history of each country."
- "The pilgrimage was a most God-loving, religious experience, awesome in sights and scenic beauty, and beautiful comradeship of the group. Thanks to Bishop Banks for making the pilgrimage a once in a lifetime, spiritual experience."
Editor's note: The Compass is planning a future pilgrimage. Tour dates, locations and spiritual director are not yet known. Watch for details in a future issue.